11.301J | Fall 2016 | Graduate

Introduction to Urban Design and Development


Assignment 2: Urban Plans

Due: Class 31

The purpose of this exercise is to explore the nature of plans and their impact on the form and function of cities. We are interested in the motivations for creating plans, the processes by which they are prepared, the languages of urban design which underlay them, and the long-term effects of plans – or lack thereof – on the city. Having considered these issues, you are asked to answer the question: What makes a good plan?


  1. Choose a plan for an area in a city that interests you. The plan may be for the area of Boston that you studied in Assignment 1, or for a district in any other city. The plan you focus on may be relatively recent or may have been created several decades ago. It should have been developed long enough ago so that the results can be observed, however. Choose a planthat proposes changes in physical form as well as changes in activies or policies to be applied in the area. Finally, choose a plan for which you can speak with one or more of the actors who created it, or about which enough has been written so that it is possible to draw conclusions.
  2. Describe the nature of the plan and the reasons why it was prepared. What problems or issues was the plan intended to address? Who were the constituents for the plan?
  3. Discuss the process used to develop the plan. Under whose authority was the plan prepared and carried out? Were the constituents involved and to what degree was their involvement reflected in the plan?
  4. What model(s) of design and development underlay the plan? This may be one of the models we will discuss in class or another precedent that you feel had a strong influence on the plan. Was the language appropriate to the problem?
  5. Was the plan effective? In making this assessment, look for long-term changes in the district that were motivated by the plan. These may be changes in form, activities or social composition, but they may also be more subtle changes in attitudes or perceptions about a place, which have long-term impacts. How well did the plan anticipate and affect the future?
  6. Finally, answer the question: “Is this a good plan?” Be sure to discuss explicity your criteria for making this judgment.

Be prepared to identify in class the plan you will be assessing by Class 21. Your final paper should not exceed 12-15 pages, including text and any graphics you may wish to include.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2016
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments